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PFT's Week Two picks

[Editor’s note:  Each week, Rosenthal and I will go head to head,
picking the winner of each game.  The guy who does worse each week gets
to be the one to copy and paste together the text the next week.  Last week, we tied.  The NBC Competition Committee decided that I should have to copy and paste it all together again.  And so I’ll take the high road and accept the ruling.  In three days, after everyone applauds me for taking the high road, I’ll bitch about it on the radio.]

[UPDATE:  As it turns out, we didn’t tie.  Rosenthal won.  And I should have kept my damn mouth shut when I realized that he’d counted his victories incorrectly.]

Bills at Packers

Florio’s take:  In Week Two of the 2009 season, the Packers hosted an AFC team, and the AFC team stole a win.  In Win Two of the 2010 season, another AFC team comes to town.  But there’s a big difference between last year’s Bengals and this year’s Bills.  Even with Packers running back Ryan Grant done for the year, Green Bay has too much talent — and the Bills don’t have nearly enough.

Florio’s pick:  Packers 42, Bills 19.

Rosenthal’s take: This reminds me of the blowout specials Florio used to get to pick last year when we split the workload.  You could try to make a case for the Bills, but you’d be trying too hard.  Buffalo doesn’t have the receiver depth to test Green Bay’s secondary.  The Bills’ three-headed running game was oddly underused last week.  Their screens were predictable.  Holes closed on C.J. Spiller a lot faster than they did at Clemson or in the preseason.  Don’t expect daylight this week. 

Rosenthal’s pick: Packers 27, Bills 10.

Dolphins at Vikings

Florio’s take:  The Vikings’ offense and the Dolphins’ defense cancel each other out.  So this one will come down to the ability of the Minnesota defense to bottle up the Miami offense.  Given that the Bills were able to keep the attack largely in check last week, the Vikings should have no problems shutting them down.

Florio’s pick:  Vikings 24, Dolphins 12.

Rosenthal’s take: Miami’s defense was impressive in Buffalo.  Mike Nolan did a lot of fun things with Karlos Dansby and Cameron Wake; they can get pressure on Brett Favre. Even short a few players, this is an improved linebacker group.  Favre also may not be ready to take advantage of a Dolphins secondary that features Benny Sappy a little too prominently.  There’s an old axiom that you shouldn’t pick a team to cover the spread unless you think they can win. 5.5 points feels like too much.  So let’s just go all the way and take the Dolphins in an upset special.  (I changed this pick at the last minute, which is the kiss of death.)  [Editor’s note:  Hey, Rosey, if you’re gonna pick the upset, just pick the upset and be done with it.]

Rosenthal’s pick: Dolphins 23, Vikings 21.

Chiefs at Browns

Florio’s take:  With former Patriot Scott Pioli running the Chiefs and former Patriot turncoat Eric Mangini coaching the Browns, this one carries a strong undercurrent of hostility.  Then there’s the fact that Browns running back Jerome Harrison shredded the K.C. defense for 286 yards last December.  Look for the new-look Chiefs to bring their new attitude to Ohio, and to send the Browns to a loss in the second of two games that most expected Cleveland to win.

Florio’s pick:  Chiefs 20, Browns 13.

Rosenthal’s take: Remember all the positive energy in Kansas City on Monday night?  Imagine that, but the complete opposite happening in Cleveland if the Browns fall behind Sunday.  Jake Delhomme’s injury doesn’t hurt the Browns, though.  Seneca Wallace is different, and could force the Browns coaches to get creative with a roster that begs for creativity to make up for a lack of talent.  Eric Mangini can’t afford to lose the Belichick B-team Bowl after last week’s collapse in Tampa.  Romeo Crennel knows just how to lose in Cleveland.

Rosenthal’s pick: Browns 17, Chiefs 14.

Bears at Cowboys

Florio’s take:  The Bears lucked into a win at home and the Cowboys squandered a victory of their own on the road.  This week, the Cowboys head back to Dallas, 25 years after the Bears authored a 44-0 beatdown of the ‘Boys.  The Bears haven’t won in Big D since the year after that game — and their streak of futility will continue.

Florio’s pick:  Cowboys 24, Bears 10.

Rosenthal’s take: No clue what to make of the Bears after last week.   Jay Cutler moved the ball very well, Matt Forte is revived, and the defense stuffed Detroit all day.  Yet they still needed a lucky call to save them from an opening loss at home.  The Cowboys are easier to read.  Their offensive line has problems and they know it.  The defense is great.  Will the return of two injured, older starting lineman be enough to turn things around?  It’s enough this week.

Rosenthal’s pick: Cowboys 24, Bears 20.

Cardinals at Falcons

Florio’s take:  The Cards barely beat a still-bad Rams team last week, and the Falcons gave fits to the Steelers on their home field.  Atlanta realizes that the window will close quickly if they can’t keep pace with the Saints.  Besides, Falcons are far more menacing birds.

Florio’s pick:  Falcons 28, Cardinals 20.

Rosenthal’s take: Arizona fans complaining about style points last week need to get a grip.  Kurt Warner has left the building.  This is a different Cardinals team, and they are going to have to win creatively while Derek Anderson figures things out. The guy led two impressive fourth-quarter drives last week and that will do for now.  Matt Ryan, on the other hand, has struggled to move the ball since the preseason.  I think Atlanta’s improved defense carries the day here.  Both these teams deserve to be 1-1. 

Rosenthal’s pick: Falcons 19, Cardinals 14. 

Buccaneers at Panthers

Florio’s take:  Since 2003, the Panthers have handled the Bucs on 11 of 14 occasions.  Though Tampa pulled off a minor surprise on Sunday against the Browns, the Panthers can be expected to take care of business on their own turf.  If they can’t, Carolina could be 0-5 at the bye.

Florio’s pick:  Panthers 24, Buccaneers 14.

Rosenthal’s take: The Bucs have a golden opportunity to go 2-0, even if Panthers starting quarterback Matt Moore plays as expected despite a concussion last week.  Raheem Morris has the Bucs defense looking improved, like they did at the end of last year.  These two similar teams fly well below the NFL radar and got against current league norms.  They want to win with running, defense, and not screwing things up too badly passing the ball.  John Fox has more practice.  And better running backs. 

Rosenthal’s pick: Panthers 20, Bucs 13.

Eagles at Lions

Florio’s take:  With Mike Vick making his first start since 2006, the question becomes whether he can play like he did against the Packers, who weren’t prepared to face him, when facing a Lions team that knows Vick will be the guy.  Lions coach Jim Schwartz never has had to defend Vick; when Schwartz served as defensive coordinator for the Titans, Schwartz’s team was the last one to play the Falcons before Vick returned from a broken leg.  Look for Schwartz to try to keep Vick in the pocket in the hopes that he’ll be forced to throw — and that he’ll force a few mistakes.  And then Kevin Kolb will get “healthy” quickly.

Florio’s pick:  Lions 20, Eagles 13.

Rosenthal’s take: The battle of the tortured fan bases.  The rest of the world learned about what it meant to be a Lions fan this week.  Week One, full of hope, they lost their young franchise quarterback and a game in the most painful way possible.  The Lions have a vertical passing attack with the weakest-armed quarterback in the league in Shaun Hill.  Eagles fans have it pretty good, but they like drama.  They talked up Kevin Kolb all offseason, then gave up on him after 30 minutes.  It’s hard to blame them after the way Michael Vick played last week.  Vick will put it to the Lions just to make this whole situation more ridiculous.

Rosenthal’s pick: Eagles 27, Lions 16.

Ravens at Bengals

Florio’s take:  The Bengals somehow swept the Ravens last year.  It won’t be happening again in 2010.  Baltimore looks as good as they ever have looked, and the Bengals looked nothing like they looked a year ago.  Look for Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis to continue to drop the hammer on anyone who looks in his direction.

Florio’s pick:  Ravens 23, Bengals 9.

Rosenthal’s take: The Bengals defense said they were confused early against the Patriots.  So were guys like Tedy Bruschi that picked Cincinnati to go to the Super Bowl.  At least the Bengals passing attack showed signs of life after the early disaster.  It may have been garbage time, but Carson Palmer couldn’t put up big stats any time last year.  Unlike the Jets, Cincinnati has the weapons to take advantage of Baltimore’s secondary.

Rosenthal’s pick: Bengals 27, Ravens 23.

Steelers at Titans

Florio’s take:  Last year, these two teams kicked off a season that many assumed would end in a playoff rematch.  Neither qualified for the postseason.  This year, both look like they’re on their way to another trip to January.  It all comes down to the Steelers defense against the Titans offense, and the Steelers defense is simply too tough.

Florio’s pick:  Steelers 13, Titans 9.

Rosenthal’s take: The Titans were my pick to win the AFC South in the PFT Season Preview, so I’m basically going to take them at home unless they are facing the ’85 Bears.  The Steelers defense isn’t at that level, but it could wind up being the best in 2010.  Pittsburgh can neutralize Chris Johnson — they held him to 57 yards in last year’s opener.  So it will come down Vince Young versus Dennis Dixon and Young should be up for the challenge. 

Rosenthal’s pick: Titans 14, Steelers 10.

Seahawks at Broncos

Florio’s take:  Former Broncos quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates, who was essentially run off when Josh McDaniels became the head coach, returns to town with a team that unexpectedly won in Week One by 25 points.  But it’s one thing to put a pasting on the 49ers at home in the season opener, it’s quite another to do it in Denver.

Florio’s pick:  Broncos 24, Seahawks 17.

Rosenthal’s take: These teams that are a total mystery, especially the Seahawks.  Can Seattle play so inspired without the 12th man?  What is this team good at precisely?  It looks like Pete Carroll is going to make this defense better and more interesting.  The offense has work to do.  In Denver, I know what I’m getting from Kyle Orton and his band of merry secondary receivers.  The Broncos can beat suspect NFC West teams at home.

Rosenthal’s pick: Broncos 28, Seahawks 21.

Rams at Raiders

Florio’s take:  The Rams looked better than expected in Week One; the Raiders looked far worse.  But Oakland is at home and the Rams are still learning how to win.  Though neither team will be embarrassed, look for the Raiders to take care of business in the Black Hole.

Florio’s pick: Raiders 17, Rams 10.

Rosenthal’s take: The optimism stops here for one of these teams. The Raiders wouldn’t be able to sell progress after a blowout loss on the road and a home loss to the Rams.  Sam Bradford has given the Rams hope for the future, but the present looks awfully bleak if they go 0-2 with a soft opening schedule.  Two Raiders, including Jason Campbell, alluded to being overconfident heading into the Titans game.  You know, because of their draft grades.  Losing 11 or more games for seven years hasn’t humbled this franchise.  Maybe losing to the Rams will. 

Rosenthal’s pick: Rams 21, Raiders 17.

Texans at Redskins

Florio’s take:  The reunion of the Shanahans and Gary Kubiak adds intrigue to a game that suddenly has become one of the best of the weekend give the teams’ performances in Week One.  We’ll quickly find out whether Houston tailback Arian Foster rolled up all those yards because he played against a bad run defense or because the Texans have become the ultimate “pick your poison” pass/run attack.  And we’ll find out whether the Redskins’ offense can score a touchdown or two without having it handed to them.

Florio’s pick:  Texans 27, Redskins 24.

Rosenthal’s take: Matt Schaub and Gary Kubiak are road favorites coming off a huge win. This is exactly the game they usually trip over, which worries me. Also worrisome:  Every aspect of the Redskins offense except their tackle play.  (How odd is that?)  Washington just doesn’t have enough firepower to hang with Houston, who should give Arian Foster a break and only rush him 25 times this week. 

Rosenthal’s pick: Texans 24, Redskins 17.

Patriots at Jets

Florio’s take:  During an offseason of incessant Jets chirping, the Patriots have remained largely silent.  Apart from Tom Brady’s acknowledgement that he hates the Jets, the Pats have avoided the trash talk.  Instead, the Patriots have saved it for the field, and the Jets may have a hard time saving themselves as the Pats make the only kind of statement that truly matters in football.

Florio’s pick:  Patriots 35, Jets 13.

Rosenthal’s take: What goes up in the NFL usually comes down. And vice versa.  An overconfident team loses one week, gets ripped, and plays hungry the next time out.  Last year, Rex Ryan called the Jets’ Week Two game against the Patriots the team’s Super Bowl.  This one is far more important.  The Jets know they can’t go 0-2 at home to start the year. The Jets defense still looks great. The offense can find a way on the ground.  Don’t crown the Patriots yet; this will be a season-long battle.



Rosenthal’s pick: Jets 20, Patriots 16.

Jaguars at Chargers

Florio’s take:  Most expected one of these teams to be 1-0 and the other to be 0-1; few expected that the Jaguars would be undefeated and that the Chargers would be winless.  Though it may feel like a home game for the Jaguars since the stadium will be partially empty (rim shot!), the Chargers have the horses to get back to 1-1 against a Jaguars team that overachieved against the Broncos.

Florio’s pick:  Chargers 30, Jaguars 21.

Rosenthal’s take: The Chargers talked all offseason about avoiding yet another slow start to the year, and then slogged through a loss in the Kansas City rain.  Weather should be more conducive to vertical passing in San Diego this week. I don’t trust either secondary or either pass rush, even if Aaron Kampman looks like a fine pickup.  I’ll take Philip Rivers in a shootout over David Garrard every time.

Rosenthal’s pick: Chargers 34, Jaguars 26.
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Giants at Colts

Florio’s take:  Peyton Manning has started 0-1 only three times in his 13-year career.  Only once, as a rookie in 1998, has Peyton Manning begun a season at 0-2.  This time around, Peyton takes an 0-1 mark into his second career game against his kid brother.  And more importantly than not going 0-2 to Peyton will be avoiding losing to Eli.  Sometimes, it really is that simple.

Florio’s pick:  Colts 31, Giants 19.

Rosenthal’s take: Both brothers have grown up a lot since the last Manning Bowl.  Peyton won a Super Bowl and did the United Way spot on Saturday Night Live.  Eli won a Super Bowl, got significantly better after the title, and adjusted his Southern fraternity mop top.  That makes this a fair fight, especially if the Giants pass rush has truly reawakened.  Fair, but not equal.  Peyton is still the one with MVPs and Peyton doesn’t start the year 0-2.

Rosenthal’s pick: Colts 34, Giants 30.

Saints at 49ers

Florio’s take:  Rarely if ever has a team with high expectations imploded as quickly as the 49ers.  They open their home schedule with a visit from the Saints, who will have had the longest possible non-bye-week time to prepare for the game, playing on a Thursday and next on the following Monday, 11 days later.  After the game, Niners coach Mike Singletary will be thanking Sean Payton in the same way Singletary thanked Pete Carroll.  

Florio’s pick:  Saints 30, 49ers 13.

Rosenthal’s take: Weirdly dangerous game for the Saints against an ornery 49ers team.  New Orleans fans don’t like that I questioned their run defense this week, but one game doesn’t erase all of last season and a shaky linebacker group.  Luckily, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams doesn’t have to get too creative to stop Alex Smith and the 49ers passing attack.  Load up the box, and dare Smith to beat you.  The Saints are in Payton/Brees version 5.0.  The essentially can do anything they choose with a veteran group of receivers.  The 49ers can’t get the play calls in on time.

Rosenthal’s pick: Saints 27, 49ers 21.

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Colts agree to terms on extension for long snapper Matt Overton

Matt Overton edit Getty Images

The Indianapolis Colts announced Tuesday they have agreed to terms on a contract extension with long snapper Matt Overton.

While the team didn’t announce the length of the contract, Overton tweeted he’ll be with the Colts the next four years. Overton was going to be a restricted free agent upon the start of the new league year next week. His new contract should run through 2018.

Overton has played in all 48 games over the first three years of his career with 22 tackles on special teams.

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McCoy-for-Alonso swap would be a rare, fascinating NFL transaction

Philadelphia Eagles v New York Giants Getty Images

It feels like a baseball trade. That’s how the proposed swap of Eagles running back LeSean McCoy for Bills linebacker Kiko Alonso feels.

It feels distinctly un-NFL.

Such player-for-player, big-contract-for-little-contract deals just don’t happen in the NFL. They’re baseball things. You know the drill: Team A acquires a veteran for the stretch run and sends young, untested, cheaper players to Team B.

Yes, NFL teams are willing to give out big deals. However, because the vast bulk of the money in those deals is not guaranteed, few teams are willing to take them secondhand. They are tailored financial instruments that generally just fit one team and one team only.

Instead, most clubs act as vultures, waiting for highly paid players to be released before swooping in to show interest, usually offering less money than the player received previously. It is logical economic behavior, but the rhythm of the dance is tedious.

But here we have the Bills reportedly showing significant interest in McCoy, who’s due $9.75 million in salary in 2015, $6.9 million in salary in 2016 and $7.6 million in salary in 2017, per NFLPA records. That’s the epitome of a splash trade.

On the other hand, the Eagles could be set to get significant salary-cap relief. A third-year pro from Oregon, Alonso is due about $1.7 million in combined salary over the next two seasons.

Some will praise the Eagles for their fiscal responsibility. Others will cheer on the Bills for swinging for the fences for McCoy, who doesn’t turn 27 until July.

Some will compare this proposed deal to the 2004 swap that sent cornerback Champ Bailey and a second-round pick to Denver and running back Clinton Portis to Washington. However, in that case, both players got new contracts from the trading clubs. That’s unlikely to happen here. The Eagles would have ample reason to let Alonso — who’s coming off an ACL tear — play out at least the next year of his deal. And McCoy surely doesn’t figure to get more money if he’s dealt. At best, he’ll keep what he has.

Nevertheless, the Bills are set to take on quite a bit of money — on paper, about $24 million in salary, per NFLPA data. That doesn’t happen often in pro football trades, and it’s unlikely to be a common occurrence. (On Twitter, veteran agent Mike McCartney expressed surprise the Eagles were able to potentially move McCoy, given his high 2015 salary-cap number.)

But the Bills’ outside-the-box deal-making intrigues. As the salary cap goes up, teams with an an abundance of cap space may have greater ability to take on big existing deals for the right player. Also, draft picks are more valuable than ever under the existing rookie wage scale, making them perhaps tougher with which for clubs to part. Perhaps a few more player-for-player deals could allow clubs to fill needs and create financial flexibility.

Hey, maybe the Bills and Eagles are on to something.

Whatever the case, this sure was something.

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Dallas County D.A. has Wal-Mart police report

WalMart Getty Images

Last week, former Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins said he had “no knowledge” of any incident at a Lancaster, Texas Wal-Mart on July 11, 2011 involving Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant.  As it turns out, someone in his office does and/or did.

In response to a Texas Public Information Act request sent by PFT to the Dallas County District Attorney’s office, Assistant D.A. Laura Anne Coats forwarded on Tuesday a copy of the same incident report that the Lancaster Police Department previously sent to Ian Rapoport of NFL Media.

There’s one key difference in the version obtained by NFL Media and the version sent to PFT.  The version obtained by NFL Media, transmitted with a cover letter dated February 17, 2015, indicates that it was printed by the Lancaster Police Department that same day.  The version submitted to PFT by the Dallas County District Attorney reveals that it was printed on August 7, 2012 by the Lancaster Police Department, more than a year after the incident but still more than two years ago — while Watkins was still the District Attorney.

“Because there was no arrest and no complainant, the incident never comes to the District Attorney’s office,” Watkins told Mike Fisher of 105.3 The Fan last week.

But the incident did indeed come to the Dallas County District Attorney, on or about August 7, 2012.  If it hadn’t, the District Attorney’s office never would have had a copy of the incident report from the Lancaster Police Department printed on that date.  The question becomes whether the District Attorney has anything else relating to the incident; a second request under the Texas Public Information Act for additional, specific information regarding the incident and any investigation has been prepared and sent to the Dallas County District Attorney.

For now, it’s clear the incident that appeared to be a faint, open-and-shut blip on the Lancaster, Texas radar screen somehow made its way to the ultimate law enforcement authority in all of Dallas County, which at last count had a population of 2.48 million.

While no video of the incident has emerged, it remains difficult to believe no video existed, especially since Wal-Mart routinely secures its many retail properties with surveillance cameras.  It also remains difficult to understand the decision of the responding officer not to immediately enter the Wal-Mart security office after someone reported that a woman was pulled and dragged from a car registered to Bryant but the alleged victim then claimed that she wasn’t “injured or assaulted in any way.”

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Josh McCown discusses his decision to join the Browns

McCown Getty Images

After quarterback Josh McCown somewhat surprisingly was cut by the Buccaneers, he joined PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio to discuss the situation.  After McCown somewhat surprisingly decided to join the Browns, he returned to PFT Live to talk about the situation.

McCown address his decision, how close he came to joining the Bills, whether he has spoken to Johnny Manziel (McCown hasn’t), and whether McCown got an advance look at the team’s new uniforms before putting pen to paper (he didn’t).

To hear the whole thing, click the thing in the thing below.

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Reports: Ted Ginn visiting Titans, 49ers

Ted Ginn edit Getty Images

Free agent receiver Ted Ginn has two more visits lined up.

According to Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean, Ginn visited the Tennessee Titans on Tuesday. Ginn will then head west for a meeting with the San Francisco 49ers on Wednesday, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com.

The Carolina Panthers and Cleveland Browns have also expressed interest in Ginn.

Ginn was released by the Arizona Cardinals on Feb. 23.

Ginn caught just 14 passes for 190 yards in his only season in Arizona while primarily contributing as a return specialist. He played for the 49ers from 2010-12 and the Panthers in 2013.

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Zimmer will make pitch to Peterson on Wednesday

Zimmer AP

Twelve days ago, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer made during< em>PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio the pitch he’d present to running back Adrian Peterson, if Zimmer had the chance to do so.  On Wednesday, Zimmer finally gets that chance.

Via Tom Pelissero of USA Today, Zimmer and G.M. Rick Spielman will fly to Houston on Wednesday to meet with Peterson.  Last week’s ruling in Peterson’s federal-court challenge to his suspension, coupled with the league’s decision to return Peterson to the Commissioner-Exempt list, authorizes the face-to-face meeting.

On Monday, Spielman told reporters that the Vikings have been in contact with Peterson.

Peterson has expressed lingering concern about returning to Minnesota. His father, Nelson, recently confirmed reports that Peterson believes Vikings executive Kevin Warren worked with the NFL to keep Adrian away from the field in the 2014 season, even after Peterson resolved his criminal child-abuse case by pleading no contest to misdemeanor charges.

Ultimately, money will become a major factor, with the Vikings presumably willing and able to pay Peterson more than anyone else would — especially since a new team also would have to compensate the Vikings. The more Peterson is worth financially, the more he’s presumably worth in trade.

Zimmer’s PFT Live appearance from Indy, including the pitch he’d make to Peterson, appears below.

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C.J. Spiller says Bills informed him of LeSean McCoy deal

C.J. Spiller AP

As news broke that Buffalo had a deal in place to acquire Eagles running back LeSean McCoy for linebacker Kiko Alonso, Bills running back C.J. Spiller was at NFL Network studios. And as Spiller related on Tuesday’s “NFL Total Access,” NFLN analyst Willie McGinest was the first to tell him of the trade.

Soon enough, though, the Bills were on the phone with Spiller to tell him they had made the deal — a move that all but ends Spiller’s career with Buffalo.

“[McGinest] walked in and said, ‘Did ya’ll hear that Kiko’s getting traded to the Eagles for Shady?’ ” Spiller said. “And to me, I thought he was joking, like just trying to play a joke on me, because he’s a Patriot, and I was a former Bill.

“But then, he put it on TV, and I seen it, and then probably about five minutes later, management called me and told me that they (were) going in that direction, and pretty much giving me a ‘Thank you for your services.’ ”

Spiller was then asked how he felt about the prospect of going into free agency in search of a new team.

“My feeling is still the same. Nothing’s changed,” Spiller said. “The gameplan’s still the same. The only thing is that I won’t be returning to Buffalo.”

Spiller indicated he was open to returning to the Bills, but the sixth-year pro said he understood players often have to change teams.

“Very few guys get to play (their) whole career at one team, but you know, unfortunately, that don’t happen in this business, and I found out today that that don’t happen in this business,” the 27-year-old Spiller said, smiling as he finished his thought and handling the moment about as well as anyone possibly could, given the circumstances.

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Rosenhaus: Eagles say no LeSean trade yet

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In response to the report that the Eagles will ship running back LeSean McCoy to the Bills for linebacker Kiko Alonso, agent Drew Rosenhaus contends that the deal isn’t done yet.

“I just spoke with the Eagles organization and there is no trade for LeSean at this time,” Rosenhaus said on Twitter.  “There have been discussions but nothing finalized.”

Nothing can be finalized until Tuesday, March 10 at 4:00 p.m. ET.  So the information the Eagles provided to Rosenhaus is correct, even if the two teams have struck a deal in principle.

Even if an agreement has been reached between the two teams, either side can back out.  If McCoy makes it clear that he’s not on board with the deal, the Bills may not want him.  So, basically, stay tuned.

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Report: Eagles, Bills swapping LeSean McCoy, Kiko Alonso

Lesean+Mccoy+Philadelphia+Eagles+v+New+England+WiievfaEoSxl

As it turns out, the Eagles didn’t approach running back LeSean McCoy regarding a possible pay cut because the Eagles had other plans for McCoy.  Per Adam Schefter of ESPN, the Eagles will trade McCoy to the Bills for linebacker Kiko Alonso.

The agreement can’t be finalized until the start of the new league year, next Tuesday.  In theory, either side can back out until the clock strikes 4:00 p.m. ET  on March 10 and the paperwork is submitted.

It’s unclear whether other compensation will be involved.  For now, it appears to be a straight-up deal, player for player.

McCoy is due to earn $10.25 million in 2015.  Alonso, a second-round pick in 2013 who missed all of 2014 due to an offseason ACL tear, is due to earn a base salary of only $745,000.

Despite a slow start last season, McCoy rushed for 1,319 yards.  It’s unclear whether the Bills will attempt to restructure or extend his contract.  It’s also unclear whether McCoy will welcome the change of scenery from Philly to Buffalo.

The move underscores the willingness of the Bills to spend big in an effort to parlay their 9-7 finish in 2014 into the team’s first playoff appearance since 1999.  From Philly’s perspective, the trade makes it abundantly clear that coach Chip Kelly runs the show — and that there are no sacred cows.  Last year, DeSean Jackson got the heave-ho; this year, LeSean McCoy gets a one-way ticket out of town.

It also reunites Alonso with the man who recruited him to Oregon.  Which will serve only to fuel speculation that Kelly plans to do whatever it takes to get the quarterback he recruited to Oregon.

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Titans awarded outside linebacker Jonathan Massaquoi on waivers

Jonathan Massaquoi AP

The Titans are taking a flyer on a pass rush prospect.

Tennessee has been awarded ex-Falcons defensive end/outside linebacker Jonathan Massaquoi on waivers, the team said Tuesday.

A fourth-year pro from Troy, Massaquoi recorded 70 tackles and six sacks in his first three seasons with Atlanta. He’s under contract for one more season at $660,000 in salary, per NFLPA records.

All things considered, the 26-year-old Massaquoi couldn’t have landed in a much better spot even if he had picked it. The Titans are not deep at outside linebacker, and starter Derrick Morgan is slated to test unrestricted free agency.

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Raiders cut Tyvon Branch

Tyvon Branch, Benson Mayowa AP

The Raiders have officially let go of one of their homegrown defensive starters.

The club announced the release of safety Tyvon Branch on Tuesday. His impending departure was first reported last week by Jason La Canfora of CBS.

Branch was due $5.5 million in salary in 2015, according to the NFLPA.

An eight-year pro from Connecticut, Branch has played his entire career with the Raiders, who drafted him in the fourth round of the 2008 draft. His market could be tied to whether he can convince clubs that any durability concerns are a thing of the past. He does not turn 29 until December, which could play in his favor.

Branch started the 2014 season on a tear, notching 30 tackles in his first three games. However, a broken foot suffered in the Raiders’ Week Three loss at New England ended his season. The previous year, Branch had been limited to just two games with a broken leg.

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Eagles will cut Trent Cole

Trent Cole AP

Trent Cole is on the way out of Philadelphia.

The Eagles had been hoping to get Cole to take a pay cut, but that hasn’t happened. Now Cole is expected to be released within the next 24 hours, according to Adam Caplan of ESPN.

Cole is a good pass rusher who has 14.5 sacks in the last two seasons, but with his cap number scheduled to be $11.6 million this season, it’s no surprise that the Eagles felt like that was more than they could justify spending.

Eagles coach Chip Kelly, who has been given full control of all personnel decisions, clearly wants to get rid of the aging and expensive veterans on the roster. Todd Herremans and Cary Williams have all been sent packing, and now Cole is on the way out as well.

Kelly is clearing plenty of cap space. He may have plans to make a splash when free agency begins next week.

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Report: Greg Hardy to meet with league on Wednesday

Greg Hardy AP

Last week, the NFL said that defensive end Greg Hardy can’t be reinstated to active duty because he hasn’t been disciplined under the league’s personal conduct policy and therefore can’t be reinstated from a suspension.

That’s true, but it’s not quite the entire story. Hardy remains on the commissioner’s exempt list while the league looks into last year’s arrest on domestic violence charges, however, and would like to have that rectified with free agency starting on March 10.

Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer reports that Hardy will have a meeting with the league in New York on Wednesday in an effort to do that. While the Panthers have reportedly made the decision to move on without Hardy, there will surely be other teams interested in his services and a clear idea of his availability will just as surely impact the offers they make to secure his services.

A judge found Hardy guilty last July, but Hardy appealed and the case against him was dismissed when his accuser failed to appear for a jury trial last month. The NFL requested court files from the bench trial as part of their own investigation, but were rebuffed and they would need to get the transcript of the trial directly from Hardy’s attorney.

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Cam Newton was on stage moments before gunfire at private party

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Panthers quarterback Cam Newton’s no stranger to near-misses lately.

But after suffering two broken bones in his back in a car wreck in downtown Charlotte late last season, he was close to another potential tragedy over the weekend.

According to WSOC in Charlotte, Newton was on stage in a downtown nightclub moments before shots were fired Saturday night.

Newton was at the nightclub Label (and was photographed with Young Jeezy) moments before gunfire rang out during a party which coincided with the CIAA basketball tournament.

Newton was on stage during the private party, but quickly ducked for cover when the shots inside the club were heard.

Two people suffered non-life-threatening injuries in the shooting, and no arrests have been made.

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Toronto Argonauts sign ex-Bengals RB Bernard Scott

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A former Bengals and Ravens running back is headed to the Canadian Football League.

The Toronto Argonauts have signed Bernard Scott, a five-year NFL veteran. The club announced the move on Tuesday.

The 30-year-old Scott rushed for 1,059 yards and five touchdowns on 249 carries in his stints with the Bengals (2009-2012) and Ravens (2013).

Scott is one of four running backs currently listed on Toronto’s roster, with former Texans back Steve Slaton another notable name in the backfield.

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